Friday, January 30, 2015

January-February garden tasks

For the last two days there has been a break in the bitter cold weather. In fact the Sun has graced us these past few days, so I have been working outside. On Tuesday, James and I hauled several tons of gravel back-and-forth to put on the driveway. Then Wednesday and Thursday I collected leaves, humus, degraded wood chips from the woods to put on the garden.
The leaves were added to some of the Hugelkultur mounds. As you know these have four steps: Layers of Logs/sticks, twigs/small wood debris, leafs/mulch, then compost/soil on top. I have a total of 10 Hugelkultur mounds (four finished, four halfway finished, and two a fourth of the way finished). The four halfway finished mounds already have layers of logs/sticks/twigs/leafs; and in the upcoming days or weeks I will add the soil and compost on top. The other two mounds are only logs/sticks for now, and I will need to add small wood debris before adding leafs. After adding layers of leaf material, I will then add soil and compost. The process can be finished very quick, however the weather has not permitted me finishing the mounds until closer to Spring.

The picture below is one of my Main Gardens which has been revamped to Hugelkultur mounds. In the picture I am pointing to the garden that noticeably has 9 protruding mounds. (The other Hugel mound is in the front of the house which is our longest Hugel bed, which you can see in this video: Hugelkultur bed phase 2).

It is the beginning of February, so this month will be a time to finish adding the final layers of soil and compost to all 10 Hugelkultur mounds. By the time I complete the mounds at the beginning of March I will be directly sowing Kale, Radishes, Beets, Carrots, Lettuce, Onion, Peas, Spinach, Broccoli. Of course you can see my Garden Calendars for All USDA Gardening Zones for each vegetable and specific planting dates: Garden Calendar for ALL USDA ZONES 1-11 (When to grow different vegetables & Moon phases.
As these vegetables grow throughout April and May, it will be time to replace them with Summer vegetables like Peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc. I also have a picture of my 2015 Garden Layout which will show you what vegetables I am planting together in accordance to Companion planting (preventing "pests" and adding nutrients), and in relation to where the Sun hits the garden: Layout of 2015 Spring, Summer & Fall Garden using polyculture, pest prevention, & companion planting. The post includes pictures of my Garden layout for 2 of my 4 gardens. I have yet to decide what I am growing on my other two gardens. It will depend on how many seeds I have left. I know I will have many vegetable seeds left. If you haven't seen my seed inventory, go to the post here: Seeds I bought for 2015 Garden.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Year Round Gardening Chart

I have three and a half gardens, not including my Fruit trees/shrubs, raised beds of strawberries and compost beds. Last week I posted a garden layout of two of my main gardens: Layout of 2015 Spring, Summer & Fall Garden using polyculture, pest prevention, & companion planting. In the post I showed that One of the main gardens is South facing. And because it gets the most Sun, I intend to grow Greens and cold weather vegetables like Cabbage, Collards, Peas, and Broccoli in this Garden during the Spring months. Then in the Summer I will replace certain cold crops with Summer vegetables that need the most sun like Tomatoes and Peppers. The second main garden is much shadier and cooler because it is North facing. In the Summer, I could grow cold crops that hate the heat and too much sun at the second main garden. But I also intend to grow Corn, squash, and Beans (the Three Sisters) at the Second garden. Across from the second garden is the Third large patch which gets slightly more Sun. This space will be dedicated to Fruit trees, fruit bushes, and Vining fruit plants.
The "half" garden is more like a triangle patch where two Forsythia bushes grew for over 20 years. Then in 2012 I cuts those out and grew Tomatoes that Summer. In Spring 2013, I grew Cabbage, Broccoli, Lettuce, and Collards. In 2014 I grew Sweet potatoes in the patch. And since then I have turned the patch into a compost heap. I expect many different things to grow here in the Spring and Summer of 2015.

 Below I have created a Year Round Gardening Chart based on the Seeds I currently have in my inventory. A couple days ago I posted Garden Calendar for ALL USDA ZONES 1-11 (When to grow different vegetables & Moon phases) which provided a short list of vegetables to grow by month. In the chart below is a more extensive list of Vegetables to grow by month. Please refer to Garden calendar post for your personal growing Zone/season/times.

Seen in the chart below, March through May will be dedicated to growing Greens outdoors and harvesting May through July. In May I will be transplanting Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant outdoors, as well as growing Corn, beans, cucumbers, and Squash. In late Summer I will start Cabbage, Brussels, etc for a Fall and Winter harvest.
Not seen in the chart below, January through April I will starting Fruits and vegetables indoors, which I have discussed here: Mini Greenhouse, What plants to start indoors, & growing sub tropicals in cold climate.

If you're interested, I purchased the seeds in a "seed vault" from Vegan seeds company on amazon. Some of other seeds like Acorn squash and spaghetti squash, were saved from store bought fruit. The luffa and Goji berry seeds were bought from the companies I mention in this post, as well as links to Vegan seed company: Seeds I bought for 2015 Garden year.

Spring (Mar-May)
Summer (May-Aug)
Fall/Winter (Aug-Dec)
Mustard greens
Swiss chard
Onion yellow
green Peas
Crookneck Squash
Swiss Chard
Eggplant black
Wheat spring


Rutger tomato

Cherry tomato

Roma tomato

Manalucie tomato

Beefsteak tomato

Blue lake beans

Green pepper


Butternut squash

Corn yellow

Truckers fav corn



Spaghetti squash

Acorn squash

Banana pepper

Straightneck squash


Oregano Italian




Year round gardening is possible in warmer climates. Southern Florida has such mild Winters, FL gardeners are able to grow Tomatoes around this time!
For gardeners in cold climates--like myself--Greenhouses, cold frames, poly tunnels, or any covering apparatus is needed to trap heat and moisture for the plants during the Winter. Greens and root crops can withstand cool temperatures but once the temperatures drop to 0 degrees, your plants may die unless if they are covered with a cold frame (seen in the picture above).
Of course I recently bought a Mini Greenhouse which will allow me to start fruits and vegetables early. But the Greenhouse won't cover my crops in the outside gardens, so I will need to make Poly tunnels for starting Greens and root crops early in the Spring Garden. Cold frames will be implemented in the Fall and winter months when growing Greens and root crops.

Constructing Cold Frames, Poly tunnels, and other coverings will be a topic for a future post. If you're interested, I have an existing post on how to build a greenhouse for free or little money using little materials which will give you an idea of how to build other coverings (Plant protectors), here: Construct a Greenhouse using Free Materials.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What I'm growing Indoors in January

Growing food in January usually requires a greenhouse or growing indoors--especially for those who lives in colder climates. Weather in my area was mild, actually staying at 50-70 degrees throughout October to December. Today we experienced the coldest temperatures so far, dropping to 8 degrees. I remember last year around the end of November, James and I camped in a tent when it dropped to 7-9 degrees. We were lucky to not freeze to death because we had eight blankets on us.

January is a little too early for me to start any Vegetables indoors. Towards the end of February to beginning of March, I will be able to start Cabbage, Brussels, Cauliflower, and Celery, indoors to transplant in April. Then I will start Tomatoes, Peppers, and Melons indoors to transplant in May. All of these starter plants will be growing in my Mini Greenhouse. This one Mini Greenhouse will allow me to grow just the right amount of starters each month to grow year round.
Yesterday I posted a Garden calendar for all USDA gardening zones which may be of some use to you: Garden Calendar for ALL USDA ZONES 1-11 (When to grow different vegetables & Moon phases)

Of course I grow Aloe vera plants indoors throughout the winter; but since purchasing the Mini Greenhouse, I wanted to start Vegetables indoors and fruit trees from seeds. For example I germinated Lemon and Tangerine seeds, which you see sprouting in the first photo below. I am germinating Apple and Pear seeds but they have not sprouted.
I am also germinating Goji berry seeds, which I keep with the Lemon and Tangerine sprouts in the Mini Greenhouse. Another fruit I am growing in the Greenhouse is a Pineapple plant and small aloe plant. In a previous post, I describe the features (size/shape and where I purchased) the greenhouse and how many plants I can grow in it: Mini Greenhouse, what plants to start indoors, & Growing subtropicals in cold climate.

Tangerine & Lemon sprouts

Mini greenhouse growing Tangerine, Lemon, Goji berries, & Pineapple

Back in late November, I pruned limbs from one of my Pear trees, including my Peach trees. I kept the prunings in a bucket of rain water indoors for two months. A week ago, I dipped each pruning in rooting hormone and wrapped the Peach and Pear cuttings in wet newspaper, placing them in the refrigerator. This method is used to save Cuttings in order to propagate in the future (Spring or Summer). I described the process of Propagation and Re-growing food for free with cuttings in this post: . One of the Pear cuttings already sprouted leafs (or blooms), so I dipped the Cutting in rooting hormone, and placed in a pot of mulch. I am trying only to use Rain water on the plant. In the first photo below, you see the sprouted Pear cutting.

 The other day I purchased a Mint plant, which I wanted to grow in the Mini greenhouse, but I think I will keep the Mint with on a stand along with my Christmas Cactus and Aloe vera plants.


I will soon be transplanting each Tangerine, Lemon, and Goji berry sprout in a larger container. I will keep you updated on the progress as the Fruit trees grow larger into February. Then I will update you on the list of Vegetables I'm growing indoors/outdoors in March.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Garden Calendar for ALL USDA ZONES 1-11 (When to grow different vegetables & Moon phases)

The first picture represents the Gardening calendar I reference. I consider my area Zone 6, overlapping Zone 7, so I would directly sow Kale, Lettuce, Spinach, Peas, Carrots, and Beets at the beginning to middle of March. Around this time I would start Cabbage, Brussels, Cauliflower, and Celery, indoors to transplant in April. In April, I transplant Celery, Brussels, Cabbage, and Cauliflower as well as grow a second crop of greens. At the beginning or middle of March, I start Tomatoes, Peppers, and Melons indoors indoors to transplant in May. At the beginning of May, transplant the Tomatoes, Peppers, and Melons as well as directly sow Squash, Corn, and Beans. 
This sounds like a simple garden, but in fact I'm growing much more than this. I am only explaining what you see in the calendar below. The calendar isn't a representation of all the vegetables, herbs, greens, and Fruit trees I'm planting. The post, Seeds I bought for 2015 Garden, will give you representation of my seed inventory which I will be growing this year. 

The following pictures represent all USDA Gardening Zones First and Last Freeze dates, as well as planting dates for each vegetable. 

photo source: Veggie Harvest

The Farmers Almanac also provides you with a garden calendar for growing different vegetables by Moon Phases (in the United States), which you can view here: Planting by the Moon Phases Garden calendar.
I usually cannot grow by the Moon phases, because of heavy rainfall during April. You always need a couple of days of nice weather to plant many of your vegetables. But out of desperation, I have planted in the rain before. 
In the past, it took my several days of nice weather to plant because I would need to till the soil for our 3 1/2 gardens. In hindsight, tilling and hoeing up rows took up most of my time. Now, I plan to AVOID tilling and hoeing rows because I'm implementing Permaculture techniques. Permaculture design is a layering system as seen in the Forests. For example, I will be growing vegetables in layers of mulch and compost instead of tilling and hoeing. This is a much easier system, as well as more nutrient dense. If you haven't seen the information I have provided on Permaculture, go to my post here: No money, work, tilling: Permaculture.